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Sitkan Eric Jordan Walks His Way to Fitness with the Park Prescriptions Program
Sitka National Historical Park, (February 15, 2013) Long-time Sitka resident and commercial fisherman Eric Jordan has just become Sitka National Historical Park's first participant to successfully fulfill his "Park Prescription." To achieve this, Eric walked the park's trails and stopped by the visitor center after each outing to "punch" his Park Prescriptions card. Over the course of two months, Eric visited 38 times and accumulated 38 punches on his card. He walked various distances each day for a total of more than 180 miles. He enjoyed the freedom the Park Prescriptions program affords participants because the duration of exercise is left up to the participant's own discretion and the doctor's recommendation. Eric found the park an ideal place to recreate because of its soft trails and scenic beauty. As he explained "It has really been a great influence on my life over the past few months. I just had blood tests and received a letter from my doctor who said things are looking good."
Sitka National Historical Park launched the Park Prescriptions Program last year to help healthcare providers prescribe outdoor activity to their patients with the goal of improving their health and wellbeing. When local healthcare providers prescribe physical activity in the outdoors, the park can provide a welcoming place to exercise, and may play a part in preventing and/or treating health problems caused by inactivity. In addition to the individual benefits of the Park Prescriptions Program, it is also designed to strengthen the connection between the healthcare system and our public lands. One example of this collaboration between the healthcare system and the park occurred when the park partnered with the Sitka Health Summit, and, on behalf of Alaska Geographic, accepted a donation from the Health Summit to pay for the cost of the prescription pads. On top of the strong partnerships the park has with the Sitka Health Summit and many local health care providers, the park recently partnered with Wisewoman. The park will now host bi-monthly walks for women of any age and ability level; these walks will be held on the first and third Wednesday of each month. If you are interested, meet inside the park's Visitor Center at noon. Upcoming dates for the Wisewoman walks are February 20th, March 6th and 20th.
In addition to improving one's health and wellness, the Park Prescriptions Program is providing added incentives to participants. These incentives, which were made possible by the generous support of the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation, include a waterproof phone bag and a quarterly drawing for $100 dollars. Participants in the Park Prescriptions Program receive their waterproof cellphone bag once they begin to take part in the program; bags can be picked up at the park's Visitor Center. To become eligible for the quarterly $100 drawing, participants must complete all of the punches on their Parks Prescriptions card and drop off their card at the park's Visitor Center. The drawing will be held at the park's Visitor Center on National Trails Day, June, 1st.
If you are interested in following in Eric's footsteps, contact your health care provider and ask them for a Park Prescription. Whether you like to walk, stroll, jog or just explore the scenic trails of Sitka National Historical Park, there is something for everyone. In the words of the Park Prescriptions Program's first participant, "What motivates me is that it is such a special place. Not only is it a great walk, but with the totems there and the history, there is a spiritual aspect to walking in the park." Visit your health care provider. Ask them about the Parks Prescriptions Program and join Eric and your fellow Sitkans by recreating within Sitka National Historical Park.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.